Streams of Belief
There’s something in my personality that doesn’t like to take a position. If you ask me my politics, I’ll say I’m moderate. I lean left on some issues, right on others. If you ask me if I’m Calvinist or Armenian, I’ll say, “I’m for mystery,” because, honestly, I don’t know (and I don’t really think it matters that much). If you ask me how I feel about attachment parenting versus regular old “non-attachment?” parenting, I’d say: “I understand where both sides are coming from.”
You may find that annoying. I’ve known several people in my life who wished I would just take a side. It’s not that I don’t want to and I do make choices. (Obviously, I’ve made decisions in how to raise my kids.) I’m just always going to consider the other side. That makes me a questioner. A doubter.
So, I’m not one to classify my theology, to say: I am strictly this and I am right. Sometimes I wish I could claim a side. It’d make for less struggling. So, what a shock when this past week the pastor at our new church mentioned the 3 streams of our church’s belief system…and I thought: “That’s what I believe!”
And amazingly they all start with an “s”! How do preachers do that?
- A love for and belief in the authority of scripture – I don’t always know how to interpret scripture, especially when it comes to Paul’s letters and troubling Old Testament passages, but I believe the Bible is “God-breathed” and I have experienced its power in my life and in the lives of others. I believe it is the foundation of our faith. After all, how we can know Jesus without the words that show him to us?
- The movement of the Spirit in our lives – I know God uses people. He directs people. He is at work in us through the Holy Spirit, who convicts, instructs, reveals the need around us, and places us beside the needy.
- The Sacred – Quietness, solitude, liturgy, the Arts, beauty, tradition. The thread that links the entire Church together is prayer. Prayer is the vessel for the sacred. My life in the Church felt lacking until I came to these gifts. They complete my understanding of what it means to follow Christ.
I grew up in a church that rooted me deeply in a love for God’s word. I’m forever grateful for that. I learned in college that I was called to listen for the Spirit, to respond to its movement in my gut. Usually it was nudging me toward an apology or directing me toward some one on the fringes who needed to be cared for. I learned that if I thought it was the Spirit’s voice it had better line up with the Jesus I knew from scripture. But it was the discovery of the sacred in my 20’s that completed the circle for me. Scripture without Spirit can be judgmental and self-righteous. Commitment to “Spirit” without the sacred (and its direction toward tradition) can fall short of the wisdom of those who have come before us. The sacred without scripture is meditation without a foundation of belief (nothing more than self-improvement).
But when we love scripture while listening to the Spirit and holding to the tradition and power of the sacred, we live with grace and truth. When we move through our days listening to the Spirit and recognizing, because of scripture, what is God’s voice and what is not, we are naturally pushed toward the holiness of the ordinary. When we look for God’s beauty through prayer, we know how to read scripture, we learn to recognize the Spirit.
They need each other. And, what do you know? I believe that.
What are the streams of belief you claim?